OKO films are diverse, emotional, rebellious, and sometimes shocking. They cannot leave anyone indifferent. OKO's mission is to explore the world and help peoples, nations, and minorities learn about each other, as well as understand and respect each other. In 2023, the festival expanded the classic program: films will compete for prizes in international feature and short competitions, as well as in two national competitions: Ukrainian and Bulgarian. Today we are happy to introduce you to the international program!
FEATURE DOCUMENTARY COMPETITION
Golden Land, dir. Inka Achte (Finland), 84’
When Finnish-Somalian Mustafe discovers his ancestors' land in the horn of Africa is full of copper and gold, he decides to swap his family’s safe but boring life in Finland -the country hailed as the happiest and most equal in the world- for Somaliland, a self-declared state in East Africa. As Mustafe struggles to lift the treasures from underground, his children embark on a bumpy journey to uncover where they really belong.
Wise Donkey, dir. Francesco De Giorgi, Giovanni Iavarone (Italy), 73’
Puglia, May 2021. A group of folk music artists decides to make a 200-km journey on foot from Torre Guaceto (Brindisi) to Santa Maria di Leuca (Lecce) along the ancient roads of the Via Francigena. A young farmer and his donkey named Bartolo join the group, creating the "Company of Wise Donkeys." The documentary is the story of a musical journey into the memory, traditions, and popular culture of Salento.
Gyütö, dir. Filipa Cardoso (Belgium), 60’
To hear the sound of the ocean in the Himalayas... This unlikely wish takes a film director and her three girls to Gyütö, where a Tibetan Buddhist monastery, perched high, echoes day and night the sound of sacred tantric chants of meditation, «which sound like the waves of the ocean». Wandering freely about wherever their curiosity leads them, they discover the daily life of 400 monks living there. Over time, a dialogue develops and a growing complicity emerges. From this intimate immersion, a film takes form, unfolding like a wave both visually and in sound. The reality of Buddhism is revealed in a way that is unprecedented, in the spontaneity of the questions asked, as well as with the sensitive understanding of a child’s point of view and with no proselytization at all.
The Order of Things, dir. Ramona Badescu, Jeff Silva (Romania), 72’
At the ripe age of 90 years old, Alexandru gardens, jokes, and continues to repair watches in the workshop opened by his father in 1909, somewhere in southern Romania. But what is invisible to everyone, and what has changed his life forever, is his past as a political prisoner. The Order of Things is an attempt to record the fragmented memory of one of the last direct witnesses of the Romanian forced labor camps and political prisons as well as an ode to resilience.
Balika, dir. Aitor Sánchez Smith, Lander Ibarretxe (Spain), 65’
Balika tells the story of Dipendra and Sushmita, two teenagers living in an orphanage in Kathmandu. The protagonists, like all his friends, were abandoned by their families.
Only Roundup Remains, dir. Brian Liu (USA), 79’
In central Montana, the Highwood Cattle Roundup has been happening exactly this same way since 1912. As the world changes and modernizes, this proud iconic American culture struggles to preserve its way of life. Through the perspective of an aging father, his two sons, and their extended family of Montana cowboys, Only Roundup Remains provides a rare and intimate glimpse into the disappearing lifestyle of proud generational ranching families, their tradition, hard work, honor, and what might be their final roundup.
Arkadaşloch - Nobody's Problem, dir. Nilay Kılınç, Markus Bauer, Alexander Brugger (Turkey), 79’
“Arkadaşloch – Nobody’s Problem” is an essay documentary film that tells the story of Özgür Kal who was deported from Germany to Turkey, and depicts his self-transformation from being the poster-child of failed integration to becoming a family-oriented business owner in Antalya. Based on Nilay Kılınç’s Ph.D. research, the documentary offers a closer look at the lives of second-generation Turkish-German migrants who have to deal with the precariousness of existence without a fixed abode and economic prospects, even after ‘returning’ to Turkey – their so-called “homeland”.
The Samaritans: A Biblical People, dir. Moshe Alafi (Israel), 78’
The biblical Samaritan community is fighting for its life and to save its language and faith from extinction.
The Apple Doesn't Fall Far From the Tree, dir. Bojan Dakić (Serbia), 48’
In the attics of Roma houses throughout Vojvodina, we found about a hundred VHS tapes showing the most important event in the life of the Roma, the wedding and wedding customs. The recordings were made at the end of the 1980s and during the 1990s. Some of the wedding customs have been preserved and are practiced today, others have experienced a transformation, and others were on the verge of being forgotten and were finally remembered in this film. Early and arranged marriages and the cult of virginity are an integral part of the Roma tradition. The older and younger generations talk about those customs that were dictated by their wandering past and to what extent these customs are desirable today.
In the hearts of the living, dir. Marielle Duclos (France), 112’
Exclusion is a long journey that continues into death. Over the seasons, volunteers organize the burial of people who have experienced living on the street, trying to bring together their families and loved ones so that they do not leave alone, in oblivion and indifference. Each year, about twenty ceremonies are held in the cemetery of Cornebarrieu on the outskirts of Toulouse. A presence, gestures, songs, and stories accompany these deceased. Through their presence, which might seem vain, at the funerals of strangers, these volunteers question the scope and meaning of such a commitment beyond religious beliefs. By offering a dignified ceremony to the most precarious, they contribute, in a spirit of brotherhood, to honoring their memory. For the true tomb of the dead is the heart of the living.
Siren Lullabies, dir. Kristina Atovska (North Macedonia), 89’
The film “Siren Lulbabies” is an independent feature length documentary about the war in Ukraine in 2022, covering the first four months of the war. It’s a personalized story narrated by the director Kristina Atovska, who was the only journalist from her country in Ukraine… and went there alone.
This movie is made mainly by Kristina’s passion for journalism and giving voice to the people that can’t be heard, in this case because of a war in their yards. That's why the main focus in this film is on the people who remained to live in war. Through their stories we see all the faces of war, from crimes against civilians to solidarity as a form of resistance, all of which are covered with exclusive footages.
Kristina's journey starts in Lviv, goes through occupied Kyiv, the battlefield on the Zhytomyr highway, the Bucha and Irpin massacre and ends in the everyday bombing in Kharkiv. This is the movie that shows the feeling of having to change everyday routines in order to survive at least one more day under the rain of bombs and constant threat.
SHORT DOCUMENTARY COMPETITION
8 Billion: We Are All Responsible, dir. Nelson Kao (Brasil), 29’
Ailton Krenak, the indigenous leader and thinker, talks about the pain of the Watú (or Rio Doce in the Krenak language). Sick with the biggest environmental disaster in Brazilian history, the Mariana Dam disaster, the river asks for help. From the impacts on his village on the banks of the river, he makes an overview of the current Anthropocene period and invites all human beings to a journey of reflection and self-criticism, aiming at urgent but necessary paradigm shifts.
[Un]settled, dir. Elena Siretanu (Moldova), 11’
In a village in the Republic of Moldova, a girl tries to navigate her relationship with her grandmother who insists that she should get married and settle down.
La Tumba Mambi, dir. Alexandrine Boudreault-Fournier, DJ Jigüe (Cuba), 29’
As a result of the Haitian Revolution (1791-1804), many French settlers traveled to Eastern Cuba with enslaved African people to escape the revolt. The Tumba Francesa Societies, which were known as a brotherhood and a mutual aid network, emerged from these waves of slave migrations. Eventually, they became integral constituents of Cuban culture. La Tumba Mambi is a docu-fiction film based on the Tumba Francesa La Caridad de Oriente, which is located in the city of Santiago de Cuba. Through the Society’s youngest member, Flavio, who is gathering information about the Tumba Francesa for a school project, we meet his grandmother Andrea and mother Queli, two charismatic knowledge keepers of their rich cultural traditions. The original film soundtrack composed and produced by Cuban-based DJ Jigüe, in collaboration with the Tumba Francesa members, is a rhythmic and striking reminder that the present is grounded in a history of struggles for freedom.
Back to our homeland, dir. Hawi Castañeda (Costa-Rica), 27’
A group of older Cabécares from Talamanca rediscover their past when they visit for the first time since they left the indigenous territory of China Kichá, in Pérez Zeledón, where they were born, grew up and left. In the process, they get to know the generations that did remain in the territory and that are currently in the process of fighting for the recovery of the land. "Returning to the land where we were born" is a documentary that deals with the memory of dispossession and the current struggle for the recovery of lands of the indigenous community of China Kichá.
Mirrors, dir. Alfonso Palazón Meseguer (Spain), 20’
From the surroundings of non-place several refugees talk about their situation, where they lived, and their dreams. It is a meeting to share non-fulfilled projects. They are part of a group of especially vulnerable refugees who have no choice.
The last 5 minutes, dir. Shahram Maslakhi (Middle East), 40’
It's about a runner who hasn't any country to live.
Mamapara - Mother Rain, dir. Alberto Flores Vilca (Peru), 18’
In the Peruvian highlands, he lives with his dog, Honorata Vilca, an illiterate woman of Quechua descent, dedicated to the sale of sweets. As the rainy season begins, she recounts passages of her life, until one evening something fatal happens that seems to make the heavens cry.
The bravery to blossom in darkness, dir. Francesco Marinelli (Italy), 28’
A group of extraordinary children, a school lost in the Tanzanian mountains and many legends. How are they intertwined and what might their stories have in common? But above all, where does the courage to blossom in the dark lie?
Cradle, dir. Filip Jembrih (Slovenia), 14’
A young girl transitioning into adulthood ponders about her village, her parents and her brothers, which she will soon be leaving behind.
Carpenter, dir. Xelîl Sehragerd (Kurdistan), 14’
An old Kurdish man (Hussein Mahmood) who is a carpenter tries to make artificial legs for people who have lost their legs.
The Discoverer of the Discoverers, dir. C.S. Nicholson (Norway), 25’
A family in West Africa tells the story of how their ancestor discovered the European explorers — to a European film crew. We get to see how this encounter is still remembered ritually. But do all the claims about the historic event bear a closer look? And to which degree can we trust the filmmaker’s white gaze? This short documentary explores how pride and conscience may affect collective memories.
Inside the BoduMas, dir. Giulio Pedretti, Roberto Carini (Italy), 25’
Eid al-Adha is the "feast of sacrifice", it commemorates the end of Haji, an annual Muslim pilgrimage to the holy city of Mecca. Muslims all over the world celebrate the feast by sacrificing an animal, usually a goat. In the Maldives, the celebration and the sacrifice are related to a Big Fish, the "Bodu Mas", and take place through various cultural, sporting, and religious moments, that unite the island communities. In the reportage, we are showing what happened during the Maghodhoo Eid Festival 2022.
And then we were taken away, dir. Jessica Bollag (Switzerland), 37’
In the 20th century, authorities in Switzerland placed over 100’000 children and adolescents in homes and foster families. The measures were implemented mainly for moral reasons and affected socially marginalized families in particular. The parents had hardly any success in legal proceedings against these decisions. Instead of fighting poverty, the state fought the poor. In the participatory ethnographic documentary “And then we were taken away”, two men in their sixties talk about the administrative foster care they experienced as a child. They lead the audience to the homes, locations of their tumultuous youth and to their favourite places. Through their biographies, the men document how out-of-home placements shaped their childhood, youth and present.